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The Beatles and Friends Spill the Beans in a New Tell-All Book

‘All You Need Is Love’ gives a gossipy inside view of the Fab Four’s chaotic world

spinner image A collage of various members of the Beatles and their spouses along with the book cover for All You Need Is Love The Beatles in Their Own Words
Photo Collage: AARP (Source: Getty Images(8))

Peter Brown, 87, worked for the Beatles, introduced Paul McCartney to his wife, Linda Eastman, was best man at John and Yoko’s wedding and was immortalized in John Lennon’s lyric, “Peter Brown called to say you can make it OK, you can get married in Gibraltar.” But the McCartneys reportedly ceremonially burned his 1983 book with coauthor Steven Gaines, The Love You Make, a warts-and-all Beatles bestseller many have called “The Muck You Rake.”

spinner image Peter Brown attends the $500,000 Simulate A Better World Challenge Winner Celebration at Brasserie 8 1/2 on October 10, 2012 in New York City
Peter Brown
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Brown and Gaines, who conducted hundreds of interviews with the Fab Four, their spouses, friends, families and business associates in the early 1980s for the book, had a lot more material than what made it into The Love You Make. Now Brown and Gaines present All You Need is Love: The Beatles in Their Own Words — Unpublished, Unvarnished, and Told by The Beatles and Their Inner Circle, an oral history created from those original transcripts. Though light on musical insights, the book is heavy on personal drama and a piercing look inside the band. Here are 10 juicy takeaways.

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spinner image The book cover for All You Need Is Love: The Beatles in Their Own Words
Courtesy St. Martin's Press

Things got surprisingly nasty at times between the Fab Four.

Brown and Gaines detail some of the rougher moments among the Beatles. For instance, when Ringo Starr told Paul that the group voted to delay Paul’s solo album release until after the Beatles’ Let It Be, the generally genial McCartney lost it. “He was the only person I’ve ever told to get out of me house,” McCartney said. “I felt sorry for him.” In 1976, when Paul rang John and Yoko’s doorbell for a surprise visit, they turned him away. And George Harrison had harsh words about Lennon when confiding that he feared John wouldn’t like his 1980 memoir (and he didn’t). “You probably think John is a piece of s---,” Harrison said. “He’s so negative about everything. What’s wrong with John, he’s become so nasty.”

spinner image Peter Asher, Maureen and Ringo Starr, Pattie and George Harrison getting off a plane in London in 1968
(Left to right) Peter Asher, Maureen and Ringo Starr along with Pattie and George Harrison returning to London on June 18, 1968.
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George made a play for Ringo’s wife … in front of his own wife and Ringo.

At dinner with Ringo and his then-wife, Maureen, Harrison announced his passion for Maureen — in front of his own wife at the time, Pattie. As Maureen recounted: “He just turned to Rich [Ringo] and said, ‘I’m in love with your wife.’ I was totally stunned. I think men are dogs anyway.”

spinner image John Lennon sniffs a flower in bed with wife Yoko Ono
John Lennon and Yoko Ono at a press conference from their bed in 1969.
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No, Yoko Ono did not break up the band.

“I don’t know if you can put the blame on Yoko; it was meant to happen anyway,” John’s first wife, Cynthia, said about the band’s collapse.

spinner image The Beatles at a press conference held at the west London home of their manager Brian Epstein in 1967
The Beatles celebrate the completion of their album, "Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band," at a press conference held at the west London home of their manager Brian Epstein on May 19, 1967.
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But the Beatles made it rough on her anyway.

​“We didn’t like her at first, and people did call her ugly and stuff,” McCartney said, “and that must have been hard for someone [John] who loves someone. Looking at it now, I feel a bit sorry for her because, if only I had been able to understand … here’s a girl who’s not had enough attention.” Yoko and John bonded over cruel neglect by their parents in childhood, and Paul wished he’d not made a fuss when Ono invaded the band’s recording studio, sat on their amplifiers, sang on their records and suggested what the Beatles should do.

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Yoko wasn’t easy on the band either.

In the book, Ono revealed that she dressed as an Arab to attend a Beatles meeting with a bunch of Jewish businessmen. “They hated me anyway, but yeah, that made it worse,” she said. “Funny.”

spinner image Paul McCartney, George Harrison, John Lennon and Ringo Starr holding their Member of the Order of the British Empire awarded to them at Buckingham Palace
(Left to right) The Beatles receive the Member of the Order of the British Empire (MBE) at Buckingham Palace with Brian Epstein standing nearby.
Cummings Archives/Redferns/Getty Images

Beatles manager Brian Epstein made them stars … but cost them billions.

Epstein did some things right, but, according to Brown and Gaines, he sold the band’s merchandising rights (lunch boxes, Beatle wigs), worth more than half a billion in modern dollars, for a pittance, and he gave away half of their songwriting royalties, worth many billions. He gave the Beatles a fee for the movie A Hard Day’s Night, and the accountants got a percentage, so they made more than the Beatles.

spinner image John Lennon, Alex Mardas and Paul McCartney at London Airport in 1968
(Left to right) John Lennon, Alex Mardas and Paul McCartney at London Airport on May 11, 1968.
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After Epstein fatally overdosed on pills, the Beatles made even worse decisions.

“It was one lunatic scheme after another,” recalled film producer David Puttnam, whose career began with the Beatles. According to the book, the Beatles trusted sketchy people such as their post-Brian manager Allen Klein, who sued them and later went to prison, and “Magic” Alex Mardas, a handsome and magnetic former TV repairman who convinced them he was a genius inventor. (Klein and Mardas tell their sides of the stories at length in the book.) “They were terrible, terrible judges of character,” said Apple Records President Ron Kass. “They were boys from Liverpool who thought they couldn’t be taken, but they knew nothing.”

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spinner image Yoko Ono, John Lennon and Paul McCartney at Piccadilly Circus in London
(Left to right) Yoko Ono, John Lennon and Paul McCartney at the opening of the film "Yellow Submarine" at Piccadilly Circus in London on July 18, 1968.
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Paul revealed the secret of getting along with John and Yoko.

“If I absolutely lie down on the ground and just do everything like they say and laugh at all their jokes and don’t expect my jokes to ever get laughed at and don’t expect any of my opinions ever to carry any weight whatsoever, if I’m willing to do all that, then we can be friends. But if I have an opinion that differs from theirs, then I’m sort of an enemy.”

spinner image George Harrison and Alex Mardas arriving at London Airport
(Left to right) George Harrison and Alex Mardas at London Airport on Jan. 16, 1968.
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‘Magic’ Alex Mardas wowed the Beatles for years with his crazy concepts.

Though Harrison told the authors Mardas was “a turkey,” he captivated all the Beatles for years with his planned inventions: wallpaper that functioned as loudspeakers, paint that changed color, a typewriter that sang as the songwriter typed the music, a machine that turned music and words into colors so deaf people could hear through seeing. He actually did create an apple with a radio in it, but most of his inventions either did not work or were sheer fantasy.

spinner image John and Cynthia Lennon in Miami in 1964
John Lennon with his wife Cynthia in Miami during the band's U.S. tour on Feb. 13, 1964.
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John was incredibly awful to his first wife, Cynthia.

According to the book, right after the couple had their son, Julian, Lennon left to vacation in Spain with Brian Epstein to cement more power in the group. (“It was almost a love affair, but not quite. It was never consummated,” Lennon said in 1980.) Later, Lennon hatched a horrible plan. He had the charming Mardas seduce Cynthia, so John could sue her for adultery and threaten to take Julian away if she didn’t go quietly. Cynthia gave him an uncontested divorce and settled for about $2 million in today’s dollars. John gave Mardas an Italian Rivolta car now worth $160,000.

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